A New Anti-Career Manifesto: Work Less – Be More

The Bengali Poet, Rabindranath Tagore put it this way: “God respects me when I work, but loves me when I sing.” If “singing” exemplifies the life of the soul – creative expression, meaningful sharing, circles of ritual, and all sorts of play — one may ask, “Why do we keep our nose so close to the grindstone, and just what are we working for?”

Why do most people stop making art after first grade?  Why do schools throw kids to the slaughterhouse of standardized testing by age eight? Why do people have brief flashes of poetic awakening during adolescence and then go dormant for the rest of their lives? Why have we allowed our souls to be collared and colonized by such a brutal economy? Is this really the Life that we and our loved ones were meant to live?

The Purpose of the Life Alignment and Manifestation Work (Creating the Work You Love/Alchemy of Abundance) is not to continue to beat this dead horse. It is not about perpetuating the scarcity laden myths that a good education, dream job, or a high salary will make one happy.  Rather, the “Anti” part of the “Anti-Career,” is to have the courage to honor the soul first. Make quality time and space for ritual, for being with nature, for meditation, for building community, and above all – for following the call of your heart. Then, let your work – your way of making a contribution to your community – align with this.

Scott Nearing, one of America’s great “simple living” activists framed this along the lines of “four, four, and four:” Spend four hours a day working for sustenance, four hours a day doing one’s art, and four hours a day hanging with friends. This is so simple and elegant (and Nearing did this on very little money), but how many people can even begin to approach such a life… and must you be a member of an aristocracy to do this?

A number of years ago, I met a man aptly named Caesar who ran one of the largest law firms in Florida. Caesar told me that out of the eight hundred lawyers who worked for him (with a mean salary of $450,000 a year) eighty percent of them were in chronic debt. Therefore it is not a job or a particular amount of income that will buy the time to care for the soul. Rather, it is the focused application of creative intelligence which arises when one makes a commitment to become conscious, to faith (i.e. open to abundance) and to live for something greater than socially perpetuated pettiness. This is the process of alignment, and work is only one petal on the flower of our life-offering back to the divine.

Can one live from the core and still thrive in this world? Yes, yes, yes! It doesn’t happen by magic, however, but as a consequence of the choices we make on a daily basis, and by our willingness to open to community support (and this is why we do our yearly Manifestation Gathering). This is how and where the power of love manifests, not just as an inner feeling or awareness, but through the risk of putting your heart on the line and doing what you really came here to do.

There is Life – this overwhelming mysterious power that surrounds and permeates us. There is Light – the open luminosity of our pure existence, beyond time and space, glowing with fullness, abundance, radiance, and compassion. There is Love, the “work” of the Light, entering the visible word, putting our feet down, and daring to live from passion and purpose.

Life, Light, Love – are these not the true principles, the true potentials that can emerge through sordid conditioned histories that can shine on? Sustained by grace, we walk through the door, all the way through! This is a great moment for us. This is our time. Let the beauty we love be what we do.


  • Doug Frohman says:

    Wonderful piece Rick! I’ll keep sending people like Amy & Betsy and Kelly and others who have reached out to me and are perfect folks for your work. Keep shining a Light.

    God Bless you, Doug

  • Dawn Avery says:

    Thanks for writing the article about less work I’m trying out a new performance piece this Wednesday at University of Maryland that asks this very question; “just what are working for?” In the piece, I walk with great intention back and forth within a larger circle, occasionally people join me and I briefly connect, but in the end I collapse exhausted and die alone… All to different versions of the chorus and hook to Walk This Way… How society urges us to walk certain ways in this world and how it is our job to keep questioning and make choices when we can. May all of our walking be done consciously, not to exhaustion, with happiness and a song. Peace, Dawn

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